University of Rochester

Nanosystems Initiative Garners Another $1.6 Million in Funding

November 19, 2008

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter recently secured $1.6 million in funding for the University of Rochester's Nanosystems Initiative, a multi-million dollar nanotechnology research center. The initiative focuses on developing fuel cells and biosensors—two areas that are expected to see tremendous growth in the near future, and in which the University is already notably strong.

The new funds bring Slaughter's support of the project to $4.4 million over the last three years.

"The University of Rochester continues to lead the way in advancing exciting new technologies that will help address the nation's energy, security, and health needs," said Representative Slaughter. "With President Seligman's leadership, the Nanosystems Initiative will provide important scientific research and development at the university and spur economic growth for our whole community. I am pleased that I have been able to help support this program by securing $1.6 million in federal funding for it this year."

"Let me express our profound gratitude to Representative Louise Slaughter for her support of this important initiative," said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester. "Thanks to this type of support, the University of Rochester is becoming a dominant player in the development of fuel cells and biosensor technology. Representative Louise Slaughter helped initiate the center, and she has been instrumental in funding its exciting projects every step of the way."

Researchers from disciplines across the University's campuses focus primarily on expanding the current research on fuel cells, biosensors, and in coming years they will develop highly efficient methods of deriving energy from sunlight.

The center, which will become fully operational in summer, 2009, is housed in two newly renovated spaces—a 1,000-square-foot laboratory on the second floor of Wilmot Hall dedicated to measurement at the nanoscale level, and a 2,000-square-foot cleanroom in the basement of Goergen Hall.

Highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of nano research, the Initiative is led by scientists and engineers from six departments, including the University of Rochester's Medical Center. Research projects currently performed at the center include a filter only a few atoms thick, which can help sort individual proteins; fuel cell membranes that are key to making more efficient fuel cells for powering automobiles or homes; and optical nanotechnology that allows for the detection and identification of individual molecules—an ability of great interest to homeland security programs.

Starting next year, the Nanosystems Initiative will also focus on enhancing the efficiency of solar cells, utilizing research already underway by engineers in the Institute of Optics and the Department of Chemical Engineering.

"A robust nanosystems facility that specializes in optical biosensors and fuels cells can be an extraordinarily productive source of technology and commercialization," said Nick Bigelow, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. "By developing new technologies, the Nanosystems Initiative will provide an important resource for economic development in the Rochester region and a scalable model for partnering business development with other research universities."